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Albright Says Follow-on Force Serves U.S. Interests

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

BRUSSELS, Dec. 17, 1997 – As NATO military authorities began studying options for a follow-on force, Madeleine K. Albright told NATO allies, U.S. engagement in Bosnia serves U.S. interests.

While President Clinton has not decided on a U.S. role in a follow-on mission, he will continue to make the case for U.S. engagement over the next few months, the U.S. secretary of state said Dec. 16.

During North Atlantic Council meetings Dec. 16-17, Albright and other NATO ministers presented political-military guidance on Bosnia. Military authorities will now study four options ranging from complete withdrawal to maintaining current force levels, and they will report to the council in late January. NATO is scheduled to make its decision by March 1.

Albright told her fellow ministers much more remains to be done before peace in Bosnia is self-sustaining. As Congress considers further U.S. involvement, American leaders will question whether European allies are contributing their fair share, she said.

The United States has provided 90 percent of the funds for training and equipping the Bosnian police force, Albright said. European allies need to contribute much more to this effort because establishing law and order is critical to any sensible exit strategy, she said.

"As long as Bosnians depend on outsiders for public security, we will not be able to leave Bosnia without causing public security to fall apart," Albright said. "We must give the international police force the resources and qualified personnel it needs to bring local police up to European standards."

Albright suggested NATO consider the kinds of capabilities French gendarmes and Italian carabinieri provide. Such forces could increase the allied stabilization force's flexibility and enhance force protection and implementation of the Dayton accords.

Citing peace progress to date, Albright noted 20 indicted war criminals have now surrendered or been seized. She said this has strained International War Crimes Tribunal resources and pledged the United States will contribute $1 million to support tribunal efforts. The money, along with a contribution from the Dutch government, will be used to build a new courtroom by next spring, she said.

Since the Dayton accord was signed, the United States has supported the NATO mission in Bosnia because "it did not serve American interests to see aggression undeterred, hatred unleashed, genocide unchecked and unpunished in the heart of Europe," Albright said.

"It would not have served our interests to see NATO become an alliance that stands up bravely to hypothetical future challenges while running away from the real challenges of the present," she said.

NATO forces have contributed to the peace process, doing their jobs with customary skill and vigor, Albright said. "Far from the endless quagmire that some people feared, we have been able to reduce our troop presence as the peace process has taken hold."

Albright said rather than seeking an ideal state of harmony and understanding, a consensus is now forming among Bosnians for "the state of security and normality any shattered society must initially aspire."

NATO officials now talk about an "end state" rather than an "end date" for Bosnia, a NATO official told reporters. Without an international presence in Bosnia, the official said, there is a high chance the peace process will collapse altogether."

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